New Cage a Hit

ELKINS – An allergic reaction to a bee sting took the life of Elkins native Rick Phillips in 1988. Over the weekend, the Elkins Elks Babe Ruth League dedicated a new batting cage in his honor.

Phillips was a former Babe Ruth, Elkins High School, Elkins Post 29 and Davis &?Elkins College player. He also coached in the Babe Ruth and American Legion ranks.

Members of Phillips’ family were on hand for Saturday’s ceremony, including his mother, Jeanette Phillips, his wife, Beth Phillips, and his children Misha Phillips-Lee and Nic Phillips, along with their spouses.

“Rick was a much loved man, husband, father, player and coach,” according to a release read at the ceremony. “A group of individuals came together to establish the Rick Phillips Memorial Fund. This group included Mike Johnson, Dick Harvey, Gary Skinner, Bob Lockhart, Fran McLaughlin and Beth Phillips.

“The memorial fund was established to provide local scholarships to a graduating senior at Elkins High School. The first scholarship was awarded in 1989. The fund began from many individuals and business donations and tonight the family and group would like to give a big thank you to all these individuals and businesses who donated money to help establish and grow the fund many years ago.”

Family members were presented with a replica of the bronze plaque that will hang on the concession stand wall. The plaque reads: In memory of Eric “Rick” Phillips. A beloved coach, teacher, father and husband, Rick was devoted to playing, teaching and enjoying the game. He spent the best of his years spreading the joy of sport to all he could.

“The Elkins Babe Ruth League Board of Directors, coaches and players want to give a big thank you to the Rick Phillips family and the memorial fund group for their contribution in the building of the Rick Phillips Memorial Batting Cage,” an Elkins Babe Ruth spokesperson said. “The cage is a great addition to Robin Harvey Field and the players love to use the new cage. Thank you to all involved in the project.”

In early 2014, Phillips’ family and a memorial fund group was looking at establishing a more permanent way to help the youth of Elkins. The family, along with members of the memorial fund group and Elkins Babe Ruth League, discussed the idea to construct a pavilion-style batting cage be built in his honor to be used by all the baseball players in the area.

During the spring months, Kevin Blosser Construction built the batting cage. The league added a special thanks to Blosser, along with 84 Lumber, Central Supply Co., Sonny’s Carpet, Davis Electric, Life Tite Metal Products and a large group of volunteers, led by Brian Webley.

The batting cage is 80-feet long and 24-feet wide. The floor is covered with Astro Turf and lighting has been installed so batting can be done after dark. There is also a storage room on one end that is utilized by all the Babe Ruth League teams and league.

An early fundraiser to help raise money for the memorial fund was the Rick Phillips Memorial American Legion Baseball Tournament. The first year of the tournament had four teams enter. Today, it’s grown into a 32-team tournament, known as the Hillbilly Hardball Classic.

Prior to the first game of the Babe Ruth 13-year-old state tournament, Rick’s son, Nic Phillips, threw out the first pitch.